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Tarleton State University Libraries Unit 6
PERIODICAL ABSTRACTS
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image of stack of books   Periodical Abstracts are print publications that provide citations and abstracts (brief non-evaluative summaries) of articles, books, and other items published within a given year (or range of years).

Periodical abstracts are usually subject specific. Examples of periodicals abstracts are Dissertations Abstracts International, Chemical Abstracts, and Sociological Abstracts.


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WHEN TO USE PERIODICAL ABSTRACTS
While some databases offer citations, abstracts, or full-text articles published prior to the 1990s, many do not. Therefore, periodical abstracts, which have existed much longer than databases, are used to locate older material. Also, reading an article 's abstract offers an efficient way for researchers to determine the article's potential usefulness.

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HOW TO USE PERIODICAL ABSTRACTS
Each periodical abstract has an introduction/preface that explains how the entries are arranged, usage techniques, and what information the entries contain. Since entries in different periodical abstracts will not look the same and may not give the same types of information, reading the introductory materials will help you use this tool efficiently and make better use of your research time.

Each issue of a periodical abstract is arranged by main subjects and then by subsets of these subjects. In addition, it may have separate main sections. For example, Chemical Abstracts contains abstracts arranged in two major sections with several main subjects and multiple subsets of these subjects:
•  Biochemistry (pharmacology, biochemical genetics, etc.) and
•  Organic Chemistry (general organic, physical organic, alkaloids, etc.).

Consulting the table of contents will help you locate the desired major section. Then scanning the headings that indicate subjects and subsets will lead to a list of citations. Many periodical abstracts also include author and/or subject indices to help researchers locate relevant citations.

Example Entry: To illustrate what a periodical abstract entry might look like, the following example was taken from the February 2000 Sociological Abstracts:


SA00098
Espiritu. Yen Le
(U California San Diego, La Jolla), Disciplines Unbound: Notes on Sociology and Ethnic Studies, Contemporary Sociology, 1999, 28, 5, Sept. 510-514.

Sociology's historical commitment to issues of social inequality, power, & collective action is traced, maintaining that postwar scientization of sociology rooted in positivist epistemologies moved it away from social activism. It is contended that sociological research on power, conflict, & inequality largely neglects or subordinates races as a basis axis of US social organization. When 1960s upheavals accentuated the urgency of race relations, sociological research incorporated race as a component of broader social relationships, especially class, rather than as a central theoretical concept. Ethnic studies' focus on the complex roles played by race & ethnicity in social relations resulted in new data on social power, institutions, & identities. The evolution of ethnic studies scholarship is delineated, highlighting its emphasis on multidisciplinary work, its recent influence on sociological studies, & the need to develop a sustained dialogue with sociology. 22 References. J. Lindroth
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The pieces of this entry provide the following information:

Accession Number
SA00098
(This a unique identification number assigned by the periodical abstract's editors, which is used in cross-references and the indices.)
Author's Name
Yen le Espiritu
Author's Affiliation
U California San Diego, La Jolla
Article Title
"Disciplines Unbound: Notes on Sociology and Ethnic Studies"
Periodical Title
Contemporary Sociology
Often periodical titles are abbreviated in the citations. If so, the periodical abstract will have a key that lists the abbreviations and the corresponding full titles. In this case, the full title is given.
Publishing Info
1999, 28, 5, Sept. 510-514
Shows the year of publication, the periodical's volume number & issue number, the publication date, and the article's page number. If the date is abbreviated, the periodical abstract will have a key that shows what the abbreviations mean.
Abstract

&

Number of References in the Article's Bibliography
(shortened here to save space)
Sociology's historical commitment to issues of social inequality, power, & collective action is traced, maintaining that postwar scientization of sociology rooted in positivist epistemologies moved it away from social activism. . . . The evolution of ethnic studies scholarship is delineated, highlighting its emphasis on multidisciplinary work, its recent influence on sociological studies, & the need to develop a sustained dialogue with sociology. 22 References.
Abstractor Attribution
J. Lindroth

The next step would be to locate the September 1999 issue of Contemporary Sociology, find page 510, and read the article. How to locate periodicals using article citation information is explained later in this unit.

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Updated 7/2004